Just across Bay Street  on the western edge of the Historic District , Ellis Square has a history as Savannah ’s main open-air marketplace that goes back to 1755, when there was actually a single City Market building in the square itself. Three market buildings would come and go until the building of the fourth City Market in 1872, an ornate Romanesque affair with a 50-foot roofline.
In 1954, the city, under the thrall of auto-worship then sweeping the country, decided a parking garage in the square was more important than fresh food or a sense of community. So the magnificent City Market building—and Ellis Square—simply ceased to exist.
However, several large warehouses surrounding City Market  survived. They carried with them the seed of real renewal, which grew with the nascent preservation movement in the ’50s and ’60s. Now a year-round hub of tourism, City Market’s eclectic scene encompasses working art studios, hip bars, cute cafés, live music in the east end of the courtyard, cutting edge art galleries, gift shops, and restaurants. This is also where you pick up one of the horse-drawn carriage tours , which embark from Jefferson Street running down the middle of City Market.
The eyesore that was the Ellis Square parking garage is now gone, and the square has been literally rebuilt, complete with colorful fountain, all atop a huge underground parking garage. It cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but as any Savannahian will tell you, the return of one of their precious squares is priceless. Be sure to check out the bronze of native Savannahian and Oscar-winning songwriter Johnny Mercer.